The amazing discovery came thanks to Walter’s appearance on Ancestry’s YouTube series, unFamiliar, which takes celebrities into untold stories of their past. As Walter set off on that journey in Manhattan’s Lower East Side neighborhood, she was shocked to see Hendrix walk up to her.
“After Elaine’s [mother] passed, she was obviously destroyed and said, ‘I’m alone now.’ And I said, ‘No, you’re not. You’re my sister. I’m adopting you as my sister right now,'” Walter recalled to ET. “… And so when she sat down with me, my first thought… was, ‘Are they going to tell us we’re related?'”
While the women didn’t find out that they share DNA, they did learn that their great-grandparents lived on the same New York City street, just steps away from each other, in the early 1900s. Not only that, but Walter and Hendrix believe that their relatives likely knew each other, as both of their great-grandfathers were involved in the rag trade.
“Those people did business with each other,” Walter said. “I would imagine they knew each other through that.”
For Walter, learning of her long-standing connection to her real-life best friend “just made sense.”
“For us both to wind up in Los Angeles being like, ‘Look at me!’ maybe is some fate,” she said. “To me, it’s just the idea of our individual destiny. My soul and her soul were meant to be connected. We’re more than best friends. I mean, people say, ‘Oh, that’s my bestie.’ I mean, we’re like soulmates.”
“I can’t help but feel like it’s fate,” Hendrix agreed. “I keep saying, ‘Of all the gin joints.’ We have the entire world, of all the states, and then of all the cities, and then of all the neighborhoods, and then of all the blocks. For it to line up like that is really remarkable.”
Their special friendship started on the set of The Parent Trap, the 1998 film in which Walter starred as Chessy and Hendrix played Meredith Blake. The women got to know each other on bus rides to and from set, and eventually their closeness was cemented over a meal together.
“We just started talking and that conversation went on for hours in the restaurant and another two hours back to the hotel,” Walter said. “I don’t think we wanted to split up that night. Now, Elaine comes and stays with me or vice versa. Even if she has a thing to do here, an event, and they give her a hotel, she’ll stay at my house and in my bed, because she doesn’t want to sleep in her own room.”
“I think even that first night we wanted to not end the slumber party and keep talking. It didn’t go away,” she added. “A lot of times when you meet someone you become close to them, especially on a movie set, because you’re on location, you’re away from your family and friends, and so you become very tight-knit, you become like a little family. But in this case, it didn’t end after shooting stopped. We kept reaching out to each other to do things and to be in projects with each other. It just grew. It just got better.”